missing ground?

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  #1  
Old 06-17-11, 11:58 AM
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missing ground?

I have been living in a rent house for the last 3 years. I may be moving out in a month or 2 if my house contract goes through.
Last night, I had a hot tub delivered and went to hook it up. When we did, the gfci in the panel on the tub kept tripping. While I ma not ruling out a bad gfci breaker, I started looking at the panel I am connecting to and I could nto find any type of ground on it.
The panel I am connecting to is a small GE panel that holds 2 110 circuits and a single 220v double pole circuit. I hooked up my hot leads to the 2 breakers and connected my neutral and ground the the neutral bar. I got to thinking about it this morning and I did not see any type of ground coming in to this box. I have also noticed the entire time I have been in this house, all of my ups's and surge strips show wiring faults.

I guess ny question is: 1. Is this why the gfci breaker is tripping instantly when I power it up. 2. IF I were to put in a grounding rod, I am assuming it is as simple as driving the rod into the ground ( I have the tools to do this) and 2, connecting it to the neutral side in the GE box?
 
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Old 06-17-11, 12:36 PM
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Your small GE panel is obviously a "sub-panel" fed from a "service" panel in a different area. Sub-panels are to have their neutrals and equipment grounds separated. Since this is a rental you are not allowed to make any changes in the wiring but must have the owner (or their legal agent) contract with a licensed electrician.
 
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Old 06-17-11, 01:12 PM
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Actually, the sub panel is fed directly from the meter. I have checked with the landlord who installed it and I have verified the lines myself. It does not tie into the main panel at all. The house has had many "home improvements" done by previous owners and the current landlord. He has already told me I can do whatever I want to it, but he will not spend money on a contractor. He does everything himself, but it is often very sloppy. That is why I would rather do it and get it right since it involves water and electricity.

The sub panel feeds an outdoor backyard sodium light on one breaker, a standard 120v outlet in the panel on the other breaker. On the 240v, breaker, it was used to service a three bay garage in the backyard, but that has since been disconnected and put on it's own service, so it is not in use anymore.

My plan was to replace the existing breaker with a correct 50 amp gfci breaker ( I don't know if they make 40 amp gfci breakers) and put a disconnect box on the back patio next to the hot tub (5' - 10' away of course). Once the hot tub was delivered, I was informed that it had a built in gfci breaker so that changed some of my plans.

So what I am taking from your statement is that I need to have a seperate ground in the sub panel that is not connected to the neutral at all inside the panel?
 
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Old 06-17-11, 01:21 PM
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If it is fed directly from the meter then it is not a sub-panel but a service panel.

HOWEVER, a building may only have a single service except in some rather special exceptions that I seriously doubt would be applicable in your situation. This means that your installation is already contrary to code.

I will not offer any advice to your situation.
 
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Old 06-17-11, 01:57 PM
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Perhaps you could enlighten me and point to the section in the NEC where is states you can only have a single service panel for a residence with a detached garage? I have searched google and I can come up with nothing about secondary service panels.

I don't know if it makes a difference or not, but it was put in place about 40 years ago.

Edit: So after reading a little more, I found that you can have multiple Service panels (ones with only 3 wires feeding them) if there are no bonded metal paths between two buildings. Otherwise, you have a subpanel which must be fed from a breaker and 4 wires.

If you are taping from a double lug meter base and the wires running from that meter base runs directly to the detached structure then that wire is a service cable unfused. My local code requires a service disconnect at the house.

Despite what you assume, I am not out of compliance with code. Since the wires I am connecting to go to a detached building, and then to the hot tub, it is correct to have the second "disconnect" there and a second service panel in the garage.

Where it may get gray or fall out of compliance is that I am hookign up the hot tub to the disconnected wires at the garage instead of through another panel. What I believe I would have to do is install another 50 amp service panel at the detached garage and ground it at that point.
 

Last edited by bcdudley; 06-17-11 at 02:28 PM.
  #6  
Old 06-18-11, 07:48 AM
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You can only have one feeder to an outbuilding. You cannot pull a second 50 amp circuit to the outbuilding. The existing feeded may not be large enough to run the tub.
 
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